Starting from Boden, 14 Master’s students from all over the world, with ABB as the initiator, have been running a research project on industrial symbiosis. Recently, the team visited Boden to present the tools developed to contribute to a society where industries live in symbiosis, reduce emissions and increase profitability.
Vegetables and tropical fruits grown with surplus heat from data centers are already a reality in Boden. Scaling up circular thinking on energy and material flows involved a mutual exchange between ABB, 14 students from ten different countries and local actors Boden Business Agency, Hive Blockchain Technologies, H2 Green Steel and Rise. The meeting began with visits to Boden’s Plug and Play area, Boden Industrial Park, Hive Blockchain Technologies and Boden’s biogas plant. On the second day, students, representatives from the visited organisations and other stakeholders gathered for a presentation of the results the students had produced and a subsequent discussion. It became clear that cooperation is an important factor for success.
Digital platform for industrial symbiosis
The students explained how they worked from two perspectives – technology and entrepreneurship, linked to experiences from other global actors working on similar issues. They have looked at so-called anchor industries, which are a key part of an industrial symbiosis chain. The students have also identified risks, development potential, strategies and actions in both the short and long term to create a growing and profitable symbiosis, sustainability and local economy. Together with ABB, the students have started a digital platform that will connect different activities and flows.
The next step is to collect actual data, not just imaginary data, from the organisations in Boden that are already and can become part of a growing material flow that creates value from by-products.
The students argued that the best industries to be included in such a system can be selected with AI technology and that not all actors necessarily need to be already in Boden, but that more can be offered to come here based on the possibility of being part of a circular flow. In this way, Boden municipality can work actively to attract the right industries for long-term establishment in Boden, from a broader perspective.
Organizational and financial solutions were discussed where all participants share in both effort and risk, benefit and value. It was also clear that the system requires flexibility and transparency and an ability to look at the big picture.
All participants were clearly inspired and engaged by the dialogue. It concluded that this creates huge opportunities and that everyone is looking forward to the students’ continued work for a few more months to come.
– Hopefully we will find a way of working and a methodology that will be viable in Boden where we can use these sophisticated AI tools to build a sustainable region. So far, the great ambition and forward-thinking of the municipality of Boden has led ABB to attract 14 top students from around the world to participate in the work. Boden really has all the prerequisites for building a world-leading industrial symbiosis,” says Mikael Miglis, Digital Lead at ABB.
– I am super inspired so far, this is very interesting and they have helped us identify our next step. Now it is in the interest of all stakeholders to provide them with data, it is definitely interesting to work on, says Nils Lindh, business developer at Boden Business Park.
The students were also very positive about the warm welcome and willingness to participate in the work of Boden.
– There is a clear difference between Boden and many other places. It’s an environmentally focused municipality, completely different from Germany where I come from, or Stockholm where I’m studying now,” says Julien Hausweiler.
Several of the students testify to the genuine interest here, that the places they visited take the time and share information, that this is by far the best place to work, that there is a drive and not just talk about what should be done but it is actually done here in Boden. They describe a desire to present Boden and the possibility of establishing themselves here to suitable industries in their home countries. If they want to come back? “YES!”